Epsom Oaks clash one to savour between O’Brien & Gosden powerhouse stables

Timeform give their 3 things to watch out for ahead of the Oaks and the Derby at Epsom.

Epsom Derby time and course length


*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

The last nine runnings of the Oaks have all been won by either Aidan O’Brien or John Gosden, with the score standing at 6-3 in favour of the master of Ballydoyle. It was O’Brien who again came out on top 12 months ago courtesy of Tuesday, albeit narrowly ahead of Emily Upjohn and Nashwa, the first two runners in the race for Gosden since he started sharing the licence with son Thady in 2021.

The Gosdens are set to be represented by a pair of leading contenders again this year in the shape of Soul Sister (128p) and Running Lion (127p), but it’s the O’Brien-trained Savethelastdance (129p) who narrowly sets the standard on weight-adjusted ratings having produced a dominant performance to win the Cheshire Oaks last time, drawing right away in the straight to win by 22 lengths.

That race was run in very testing conditions, but Savethelastdance has a pedigree which suggests she is unlikely to be inconvenienced by a sounder surface as she tries to provide O’Brien with his fourth straight win in the race and his eleventh in total.

An exciting prospect, Savethelastdance certainly looks a worthy favourite given that the Gosden pair are still unproven at the trip, while the others simply don’t look good enough to make an impact at this level. For context, that trio are all rated at least 10 lb above the best of the rest, Eternal Hope (117p), so it’s likely to be the same old story in the 2023 Oaks with the usual yards coming to the fore.

Coronation Cup looks a cracker despite small field

Emily Upjohn has the opportunity to gain compensation for her agonising defeat at Epsom last year when she lines up in the Coronation Cup earlier on Friday’s card, though O’Brien will be hoping to stand in her way again with Point Lonsdale, who made it two from two since returning from a lengthy absence with a determined success in the Huxley Stakes at Chester last time.

It’s testament to the quality on show that even that pair have a bit to find with the two form principals in this Group 1, namely Hurricane Lane (138) and Westover (137). They are rated 3 lb clear of the rest on weight-adjusted ratings, with German raider Tunnes completing the five-strong field.

Like Emily Upjohn, Hurricane Lane and Westover both have the benefit of a previous run at this track having once finished third in the Derby, in 2021 and 2022, respectively. And unlike Emily Upjohn, they both have race fitness on their side as Hurricane Lane returned to form with a wide-margin victory in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket last month, while Westover was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind Japanese superstar Equinox in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.

That was Westover’s best effort since winning last year’s Irish Derby and, with nothing of Equinox’s calibre in opposition here, he appeals as possibly the most solid proposition ahead of Hurricane Lane, who has been a bit in-and-out since his three-year-old season when he also won the Irish Derby.

    Dettori bids for Derby glory in final season riding

    The 2023 edition of the Derby is a race full of intrigue with so many questions waiting to be answered. Can Auguste Rodin bounce back from his poor run in the 2000 Guineas? Can Military Order follow in the footsteps of his brother Adayar with victory at Epsom? Can Passenger confirm the promise of his luckless third in the Dante and provide trainer Sir Michael Stoute with a seventh Derby success?

    However, whilst any of them would be worthy winners, there is perhaps only one story which has the potential to make front page news on Sunday morning and that would be if Frankie Dettori can land the spoils on his final ride in the Derby.

    Already a two-time winner of the blue riband having struck on Authorized in 2007 and Golden Horn in 2015, Dettori has the plum mount this year on the John and Thady Gosden-trained Arrest, an emphatic winner of a gruelling Chester Vase a few weeks ago. That form puts Arrest (128p) right in the mix here – he is only 3 lb behind the top-rated Military Order (131p) on Timeform’s weight-adjusted figures – and there should be more to come from him after just five starts.

    Faster ground would be a question mark but, in a race full of questions, many people will be hoping that Arrest can provide the answers for Dettori as he tries to add another finishing flourish to one of the most decorated careers the sport has ever seen.

    *All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change



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